After breaking the fast, while still on my prayer mat I was secretly hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be the last fast of Ramadan. Somehow I wasn’t that thrilled about Eid, this time. I was rather withdrawn and passive. Obviously, Eid was not the reason for my distress; instead it was the coming of the end of Ramadan.
Having understood the virtues and experienced the numerous blessings of Ramadan. I was feeling anxious for not having availed enough from the blessed month. “But there is always next Ramadan.” I reassured myself. “What makes you so sure that you will live that long?” A part of me contradicted. The growing debate between my conscience and nafs (lowly base self prone to sin) made me more apprehensive and anxious. The ticking of the clock made me desperate and I felt like grabbing every second of the passing moment.
I started having flashbacks of what little I did the entire month as pose to all that I could have done to seek the pleasure of my Rabb, the voluntary deeds I could’ve performed besides the regular rituals without the intervention of Iblees. I was taken over by guilt at the realization that the enemy did not reside outside only, in reality the bigger and unidentified enemy was within me and that was my own nafs.
“Forget it! You don’t have what it takes to be pious. When you couldn’t take charge of yourself in Ramadan when Shaitan, your biggest enemy was chained then what chance do you have for self purification outside Ramadan?” My nafs condemned me. Tears of regret and remorse rolled down my cheeks into my hands raised for Dua’a. And I promised myself that if I would be allowed to witness next Ramadan then it would have to be a different one, and definitely a better one, Bi ithn Allah (by the will of Allah).
The first step towards the attainment of a higher goal is to be prepared, planned methodical and organized. Therefore, I devised a pre Ramadan checklist. “This Ramadan would be a different one!” Clenching my Ramadan Checklist I announced to myself in a resolute tone.
I thought of sharing it with you all hoping that it would prove to be beneficial for you as well, inshaAllah.
My Ramadan Checklist
- Dua’a: Make Lots of Dua’a to be able to witness Ramadan with hidayah (guidance), hikmah (wisdom), ‘aafia (wellbeing), and to be blessed with the barakah in your time so that you can make the most of each day.
- Regulated Routine: You might want to give up on the late nights and late mornings at least two weeks before Ramadan. In order to have a spiritually proactive month not to mention the Taraweeh (voluntary night prayer after ‘isha) and Qayam ul Layl (night prayers).
- Quran Recitation: Try to get into the habit of the Quranic recitation with understanding and contemplation at least ten days before Ramadan. So that by the end of the blessed month you do not feel the urge to rush up the completion of the Glorious Quran.
You can start incorporating Quran recitation with contemplation after Fajr Salah, gradually increasing the number of pages in addition to the increase in recitation timings after ‘Asr Salah (or any other Salah depending on your routine.)
- Dua’a Memorization: A month before the start of the Ramadan you can try to memorize at least one new dua every week. This way you would be able to avail more khair (goodness) during the month of forgiveness.
- Grocery Shopping: Make sure that you have organized and stored all your groceries (especially meat; cleaned and sorted into small packets) to avoid unnecessary delays and hassle at least a week before the onset of Ramadan.
- Make a Ramadan Menu: This will help you focus on more important tasks, as you wouldn’t be worried about the mundane stuff. Try to keep the menu as simple as possible as it’s a Remember, Ramadan is a month of worship not a month of feasts.
- Adequate Eating Habits: Try to go against the ‘ritual’ of consuming too much fried food. Fried, spicy and/or junk food tends to slow down the energy level of an individual and you certainly wouldn’t want to be a slug during the second half of the blessed month, especially during the last ten nights.
- Iftar Parties: Keeping the ties of kinship is one of the noblest deeds but not at the cost of earning the displeasure of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) by throwing lavish Iftar parties or even worse attending mix Iftar gatherings with blasting music filled nasheeds. Not to mention such get-to-gathers are time and money wasters too. If you do invite people for Iftar then abide by the lawful acts and avoid extravagance.
We need to be mindful of our duties towards Allah first and the responsibility of being a believer by holding on to the halal as per the Quran and Sunnah. Ramadan is a month of forgiveness; let’s not make it a month of being heedless about committing sins.
- Eid Shopping: It is a golden month for grabbing khair for the akhirah not for grabbing the best bargains at the shopping malls. Do not loose this opportunity at the hands of fulfilling the desires of your Feed its desires with halal shopping days before Ramadan begins.
- Regular Check List: The checklist comes in handy. You can prepare a daily checklist of ‘Things to do’ every night before going to bed, for the next day. This way you wouldn’t be preoccupied with the reminders about the mundane things lingering on at the back of your head and will most likely be able to focus on your worship.
- Supererogatory Acts: In order to get into the habit of performing extra to earn added rewards you must start performing voluntary acts after the obligatory acts and sunan (plural of sunnah); such as, voluntary prayers, fasts and charity etc.
Abu Hurayrah (radiAllah u anhu) narrated that the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam), said, “Allah said: My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties [obligatory acts] I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask (something) of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it.” (Bukhari; hadith qudsi)
- Daily Dhikr: Regulate the practice of the morning and evening adhkaar as per the Quran and Sunnah, two weeks before Ramadan begins. Try to keep your tongue moist with dhikr (remembrance of Allah), such as, Astaghfirullah, SubhanAllah, Alhamdulillah, SubhanAllah e Wabihamdihi, etc. Especially while doing motorized tasks such as cooking and cleaning. This way your ordinary deeds will turn into acts of worship.
- Fruitful Before Fajr: A month before Ramadan try to get up just ten to fifteen minutes before Fajr. This is that part of the night when Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) descends to the last heaven and accepts the dua’as of His slaves. How can we miss such an opportunity, such an honour.
- Allot a Slot: Assign a specific time during the day for listening to a Quranic recitation or an imaan boosting lecture to help you stay high-spirited throughout the busy day.
- Family Matters: Try to invest at least thirty minutes to share something related to deen with your children in an interesting way; e.g. read them a story from the Quran or/and stories of the Prophets, tell them a hadith and try to perform it with them, switch on a short talk by a scholar and listen to it with them and discuss it with them at the end. Let the activities be interactive rather than lecture oriented.
- Sharing is Caring: Arrange your cupboard a month before Ramadan and separate those useful and good conditioned items that you haven’t used for over 10 months. If you didn’t use them for 10 months it’s less likely that you will ever use them. Therefore, neatly sort and stack them in boxes and give them for charity.
- Gifts: Furthermore, Few months before Ramadan, make a little charity box with the help of your children for them to learn the importance of sadaqa and start collecting money in it. When you go for your Pre-Ramadan Eid shopping, then buy few gifts for the poor and less privileged and wrap them nicely to give them a day or two before Eid. Charity expiates sins and its virtues increase in multifold in this blessed month.
Ramadan is the month of opportunities and bonuses to gain the utmost khair (goodness). Imagine if you were told about a clearance sale at the best mall in town wouldn’t you want to grab every valuable thing you could? Definitely! Every sensible person would try to avail such an opportunity if not for them, then maybe for those whom they love. Then, why should we let this opportunity slip by without giving it our best try to attain the pleasure of the One who loves us beyond our perception?
May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) help us make the most of our life until we meet Him in Jannat al Firdaus, ameen yaa Rabbi.
This article was first published in Hiba Magazine.